Valerien Ismael has penned a heartfelt message to Barnsley’s supporters following his move to West Bromwich Albion.
The Baggies confirmed the Frenchman’s appointment as the club’s new head coach on Wednesday afternoon with Ismael succeeding Sam Allardyce who left his role following relegation from the Premier League.
Ismael has signed a four-year deal at the Hawthorns which brings an end to an eight-month stay at Oakwell where he made quite the impression.
The 45-year-old nearly pulled off the unexpected by guiding the Tykes into the play-offs only to be beaten by Swansea City over two legs – the first of which was played in front of a vibrant home crowd; the only time that his team would take to field in front of supporters during his reign.
In an open letter to the fans, Ismael expressed his genuine appreciation for the support that he and his family received during their time in South Yorkshire, while also saying that the play-off semi-final clash with Swansea at Oakwell ‘will live with him forever’.
— Valérien Ismaël (@valerien_ismael) June 24, 2021
In a letter posted on Twitter, Ismael said: ” write this message to you, the fans.
“The welcome that you gave me when arriving in Barnsley last October meant so much to me and my family, The good wishes on social media, people saying hello in the shops and on the streets, your constant warmth and sincerity displayed to me just how special this place truly is.
“Everyone at the club knew just how difficult it was for you not to be at our games. We all worked tirelessly to make you and the town proud in what were incredibly dark times. I think we achieved that.
“I must also touch on the reception I received at that home play-off leg at Oakwell. The noise, the emotion, it will live with me forever. Unfortunately we were unable to finish the perfect story last season, but I really wish the best for you and all the people associated with Barnsley FC.
“Thankyou once again for your support and see you soon.”
22 facts about Barnsley's football shirts over the years - But are they genuine or fake?
It’s hard to be a fan of Valerien Ismael after reading that letter.
It’s so easy for managers to write a brief statement to fans with no emotion but it’s evident from his words above that his time at Barnsley meant a huge amount to him.
You can’t begrudge Ismael the opportunity to challenge himself at a club like West Brom where he has a real platform to do something very special.
It won’t be much consolation to Barnsley fans but hopefully they’ll appreciate all that he did for the club in his brief but memorable spell.